CAIRO: Three Europeans working for an Italian construction company have been abducted in western Libya, officials said Sunday.
The kidnappings are the latest evidence of the chaos and lawlessness sweeping the energy-rich North African nation since the ouster and killing in 2011 of longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
The Italian Foreign Ministry confirmed that Marco Vallisa had been kidnapped Saturday in the western town of Zuwara, near the Tunisian border. The Italy daily Corriere della Sera reported that Vallisa, 53, was a construction drilling specialist.
A Libyan security official said the other two men were from Bosnia and Macedonia. Representatives of the Piacentini Costruzioni construction company in Italy could not immediately be reached for comment.
Authorities have arrested a Libyan man suspected of involvement in the kidnappings, the Libyan official said without elaborating. The official – who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the media – did not name any suspects, but armed militias are frequently to blame for kidnappings either for ransom or political motives.
Bosnia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said one of its citizens was missing and its embassy in Tripoli was working with Libyan authorities and the Italian Embassy to locate the three men, who it said all worked for the same Italian company.
The Macedonian Foreign Ministry said it had not confirmed a Macedonian was kidnapped but it was cooperating with the investigation into the reports.
Libya’s stability has deteriorated sharply since the civil war against Gadhafi and the central government has been rendered largely ineffective as former rebel forces and militias quickly filled the security vacuum.
Meanwhile in Tripoli, armed groups battled for several hours for control of a western entrance to the capital, without any immediate report of casualties.
Several cars and buildings were damaged in the residential district of Regata, in what a security official said was a showdown between an armed group from the town of Zintan and a rival militia based in Janzur, a western suburb of Tripoli.